How do I divide this???

Linda's Garden z6 UtahOctober 30, 2011

I have been digging and dividing dahlias all weekend. I am going to store them in Saran Wrap for the first time this year. Most of my dahlias have not been too hard to divide but then I dig up something like this...

This is show-n-tell. I have no idea where to even begin to cut this thing apart without mutilating it. The tubers are so dense and tightly packed that I don't really see a place to start cutting. Should I just hack it into a couple of pieces and go from there? Any suggestions?


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I'm not an expert at dividing, but I've been told that the first thing to do is get the little stick like roots out of the clump so you can see what you have. My mom also told me to cut off the "rat tails." My Show N Tells have never been that densely packed, and I've grown them for years! But . . . neither have I had as many Show N Tell blooms as you had!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 10:51PM
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Linda, Pyllis is right. Get rid of the rat tails and any tubers that are to small or delicate (thin necks, thin tubers) to overwinter so you'll be able to see better what you have.

Then if you need to, just cut it into 2-3 pieces and go from there. I've worked with ones like yours before and began the job with trepidation, too, but still got many viable tubers out of the lot.

I've been having excellent luck with dusting my tubers in sulfur, loosely packing in plastic (grocery) bags and putting them in the root cellar for the winter.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 8:40AM
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Linda's Garden z6 Utah

Well I made it thru the show-n-tell and Candlelight which was just as bad. What a pain! I have dug most of my dahlias and I think I still have 9 more to do. Thanks for your advice!

Gail, so you just put them in bags without any peat moss or wood chips? Maybe I will try that with some of them.

Linda :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 9:10PM
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Hi Linda, no peat moss or wood chips.
Here's a couple photos from several years ago.

These were AFTER being stored all winter.
Note, this particular year I didn't divide them in the Fall. Never again, what a mess. I now separate them in the Fall when I can do it outside!


    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:18AM
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The picture shows the bottom of the clump instead of the stem area where the eyes are located so I cannot tell if the clumps has visible eyes. The procedure for tightly formed clumps: Cut off the stalk with tree loppers at about 1 inch above the tubers. You will then use the loppers or bonsai scissors or a knife(not my preference) to divide the clump into two parts. If you can see eyes, make sure you do not cut through them. If you cannot see eyes proceed anyway. Divide one more time and again if you see eyes do not cut through them. You now have 4 pieces. Cut off the tails and any roots that are less than one quarter inch in diameter. Store as you would a tuber. In the Spring examine each division for growing eyes. Most times you will get at least two with growing eyes and sometimes all four. If you store the clump undivided you will risk having the entire clump rot. This is because the stem quite often rots and the above procedure removes the stem. I have used this procedure hundred of times with great success.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Linda's Garden z6 Utah

Gail, when you dust them with the sulphur do you put it in a bag and mix it with vermiculite and then add tubers and shake it around? Or are you just applying it straight?

Ted, I did manage to find some eyes after I cut away the rat tails and twisted roots and split it in half. Thanks for your advice. I have a few more to dig and hopefully they do not look like that.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 6:49PM
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Hi Linda,
Just apply the sulfur straight.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:02AM
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